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Now that the trade logjam has been broken, who, if anyone do the Leafs move? Where do Gunnarsson and Grabovski end up?

One thing is clear:  while it has been a slower than usual run-up to the NHL deadline next Monday, the logjam has now been broken.  (Where the Leafs fit in, after a 2-1 loss at home against the Sharks, I'll come to in a moment.)

In recent years, some pretty major deals have been consummated well before the “deadline day”.  Even though there was some last-day action, a lot of the big stuff had been decided already, leaving various networks with about ten hours to fill- with mainly small deals receiving more analysis than they deserve.  But this season, there was almost nothing happening until a few days ago.  And it’s been interesting to see how things have slowly built up to Thursday night’s big deal involving the Jackets and Kings.

First we had Hal Gill and Pavel Kubina moving on the heels of the Dominic Moore deal.  Interestingly (ironically?), all three ex-Leafs are the kinds of players who always seem to draw attention from “contending” teams at this time of year.  Then we progressed to the Downie/Quincey deal involving Detroit, Tampa and Colorado.  Not huge names, exactly, but players who can certainly help a good team come playoff time.

Then, it was Vermette heading to Phoenix to help the Coyotes in their playoff drive and you could feel the ante was being raised by the hour.  While not a superstar, Vermette is a guy who can really play.  He has good skill and possesses traits that Dave Tippett, a demanding coach, should like.  The next step was a really big name moving, and that trade saw Jeff Carter go to the Kings in return for Jack Johnson Thursday evening.

Not surprisingly, all kinds of opinions were flying about that particular trade.  Some observers love Johnson, the former high number-one pick who has only ever played with the Kings—others less so.  Two years ago, most Flyer fans loved Jeff Carter.  But then the reports of his off-ice reputation emerged, fair or not.  And now the guy with the awful long-term contract (why would anyone ever hand out a 10-year deal…why?) has been dealt twice within a few months.  Go figure.

This all leads to this simple question:  where, if anywhere, do the Maple Leafs fit into the trade deadline picture over the next 72 hours or so? 

Befitting the Leaf "frustrated fan" experience in recent years, every time a player is thought to be even possibly available, we begin to picture him in blue and white.  Remember Eric Lindros?  By the same he actually signed here, he was well passed his best- and healthiest- days. (In truth, it has maybe almost always been this way in Leafland for most of us, as diehard fans.  I’ll speak for myself:  some of my fondest memories have been while contemplating (day-dreaming in my school days?) what we didn’t have in our line-up, but wishing and hoping that we could somehow land that big fish.  I’m much older now, not necessarily wiser, but certainly older.  I don’t spend nearly the time thinking about who might get traded here.  Years of disappointment in my youth dulled that hopefulness.  I’ve written here in the past about a long list of guys I wanted in the 1970s.  We finally got Dan Maloney, for example, a player I really wished we could land in Toronto, but maybe a couple of years to late…)

In the past few weeks alone, this has been the Maple Leaf bouncing ball:  Getzlaff, Bobby Ryan, Rick Nash, Jeff Carter.  Now the word is, based on comments emanating from the TSN panel last night (and elsewhere, too) that the Kings may move Dustin Brown.  Well, he will likely jump to the top of the "want" list that Leaf fans update daily in their minds.

How realistic obtaining Brown is, I have no idea.  It may well be that the Leafs have other priorities, such as a shutdown defender or a veteran goalie.   I can't follow the bouncing ball very well.

Somehow, and I could be very wrong, I just don’t see the Leafs bringing in a high-end defender.  I don’t think Burke wants to give up what would be required to get that kind of player—and this is an organization that is already deepest on the blueline.  Whether we have drop-dead, high-end quality there, well, we can debate that.  But I think that even if the Leafs didn’t make a single move on the blueline, they could have a very good, young, experienced and mobile defense in two seasons.  How good might Schenn be, if he is just allowed to develop like any 22 year-old?  Heck, some (most?) defensemen don’t get to the NHL until they are older than Schenn, and the kid has played four seasons already.  Gardiner is obviously a keeper, with a huge ceiling.  Phaneuf is not going anywhere and for me, Gunnarsson remains an invaluable, reliable presence.  That’s four reasonably young but already experienced defensemen and I have not even mentioned Franson or any of the youngsters down on the farm.  So a defenseman?  I just don’t see it.  But who knows?

I will say this:  if the Leafs do want to bring in a stud defenseman, or a player like Brown (who indeed has a lot of the traits that Burke, and we as fans, would dearly love), or a goalie like Nabokhov, we would have to give up something pretty good in return. And to me, as much as I don’t like the idea, I keep coming back to a name that I have mentioned in this regard before, and that’s Gunnarsson.

As anyone who visits the site somewhat regularly might know, I’m a Gunnarsson fan.  I just like his demeanor on the ice.  He makes mistakes, but all defensemen do.  He is not wondrous offensively, but if he focused on that more, he has shown that he has solid offensive instincts and nice skills.  But on this team, with offensively-gifted guys like Gardiner and Franson—and Phaneuf who loves to join the rush, more often than not. along with Liles—Gunner is the “voice of reason” on the backline.  He plays his position quietly and moves the puck to his own teammates with proficiency.  He is not the big, physical guy that we would all love, but while he will likely never be Lidstrom, he may be a less-skilled, less impactful version of the smart Detroit defenseman.

So, if I was a rival GM, and I couldn’t pry Gardiner away from Burke, Gunner would be next on my list.  And I would ensure that he was part of any deal that sent a really good player to Toronto.


There is one other point I wanted to make on the subject of trades.  I’d like to give the person whose comment it was on Twitter credit for the statement (I believe it was Adam    @bleafer )  The comment was about Mikhail Grabovski and essentially it was this:  like Dominic Moore before him, perhaps Grabbo should keep in mind that some players are in the right spot for them already.  I thought it was a well made point.  Tempting fate by demanding an absurdly high contract may get you what you actually don’t want—a ticket out of town.  It just may be that Grabovski is a guy who is suited to the system Wilson plays, in a market that appreciates him for what he is and is not down on him for what he is not.

As many of you will know, I wasn’t a Grabbo guy two years ago, or event at the beginning of last season.  But I have been won over, over the last twelve months.  I just wonder if he may get lost in another market, where hockey does not matter much—and players aren’t held to the scrutiny they are here.  I think what has made Grabbo a fine player (besides his innate skill and hard work) is that he loves being a Leaf, and a good Leaf, in a market that loves hockey as much as he does.  If he was in, say, Carolina, would he be the same player?  Maybe.  But I do wonder.

In any event, I couldn't begin to predict what Burke will or won’t do between now and Monday.  Some moves, maybe no moves?  Maybe bring a forward in, or a defenseman- or a goalie?  I have no idea.  He has claimed that his track record is that he likes to make his big deals well before the deadline, before the price goes up and everyone wants the same guys.  I don’t honestly know if his "track record" in his 13 years as a GM (that would require more research than I am prepared to do….) demonstrates that he does in fact usually make his moves early.  Regardless,  I sense that, this time around, he is not willing to give up assets he has judiciously built up over the past three plus years—even for a player he may really like.

Can he pull off another Phaneuf deal, or something similar to what he managed with the Ducks a year ago?  Again, I don’t know.  But as Dustin Brown rumors will surely swirl around now, if I had to make a guess, I’d guess he may sit this one out, and, if anything, make only smallish moves.

What do you think?


  1. There is s list of players that I would hate to see moved: Gardiner, Grabovski, Franson and Gunnerson.

    I could see us kicking ourselves for years over each of those players.

    I could see them becoming better...stars or really good players with other teams and producing for years.

    I am even starting to like Franson more than Schenn...more upside.

    Kulemin, MacArthur and Steckel are down a notch, but I want to keep them too.

    I don't see Kessel,or Lupul being available and Bozack is the cheap insurance center for that line line.

    Phaneuf...I want to keep.

    I would like to give Frattin another chance next year so I don't want to trade him yet.

    Guys like Lombardi, Conolly, Armstrong, Crabb or even Liles I could move if there was good return. Gardiner looks ready to take Liles place.

    I could package up Schenn and Kadri if there was good return.

    It looks like a sellers market this year so you never know what you might get...even for sub par players.

  2. I wonder if Burke has a similar "list", DP. Thanks.

  3. "The Los Angeles Kings finally made their much talked about move for offensive help Thursday night as they obtained Jeff Carter from Columbus for defenseman Jack Johnson and a conditional first-round pick. ...Also immediately after Carter was acquired, a number of NHL insiders indicated that the Kings would likely shop team captain Dustin Brown."

    LA trades an offensive Liles plus something for Brown? or as part of a larger deal?

  4. I could not agree more with your assessment of the blueline. Whether it is capable of providing sufficient defensive play this season is irrelevant. Going forward that is where the Leafs' strength is while their deficiency is certainly size up front. Burke has said that this team is still under construction, so we must objectively look past this playoff run (as great as it is) and fill our long term needs. For that reason I still say that pending RFA Cody Franson is most likely dealt by Monday considering the Leafs cannot afford to re-sign him this summer with all the other money already committed on the back end. With Korbinian Holzer, Keith Aulie and maybe even Jesse Blacker waiting in the wings to fill his spot next season, Franson's loss won't be that dramatic.

    Would the Kings replace a hard shooting, puck moving defenseman like Jack Johnson with Franson? Could he be a big part in acquiring Dustin Brown? Food for thought. Great article Michael.

  5. have to believe something is cooking...but my guess is, as I posted, Burke will only move if he can achieve bringing someone in with minimum assets going the other way....You may be right about Liles, though he seems to love playing in Toronto....

  6. DP: Kulemin is on the maybe keep list? I couldn't be more done the guy, seems too much like a one year wonder and he's just dragging down whatever line they put him on. If Brown comes in he'd be the guy I axe to make room in a heartbeat. Doubt he could be traded, but we've seen Hagman shipped out during a slump as a 'former 30 goal scorer' so who knows.
    Probably like most Leaf fans Brown's name made me jump out of my chair and say GET IT DONE BURKE! But he is their captain, so could be a tall order. Still, he is my new best case scenario and I need something to hold onto with this fast-fading season.

  7. Anyone else impressed by Schenn recently? I think he's been playing simple, fierce and effective hockey. On that note, I wouldn't be quite as heartbroken as I would have been 2 years ago seeing Schenn as a part of a deal but it needs to be an integral piece for the next couple of years for me to stomach it.

    I think the Leaf's top 4 defense is set moving forward and that Leaf fans should be excited about its future. Watching Phaneuf, Gunnarsson, Schenn, and Gardiner for the next few years is going to be a treat, throw in parts like Liles, Franson, Blacker, Aulie etc. I think there's a lot to feel good about.

    I'm excited about the future in the Leaf's net too, I think Reimer's struggles were to be expected for a sophomore goalie, the Monster probably is on his way out (perhaps to success in another city as you've mentioned Michael), but Scrivens and Owuya have a shot to be successful down the line and some prospects like Sparks are intriguing.

    So long term fixes don't strike me as necessary for the defence and goalie positions, but if Burke wants to grab a cheap veteran goalie, tinker with the forwards or needs to convert some defensive depth to offensive depth I wouldn't complain.

    This team's time isn't quite yet, soon, but not yet.

  8. Given Burke's announced desire for more beef in the top six, I think Dustin Brown is exactly the kind of player he wants. But I also think the problem with Brown, or a player like him, is twofold for Toronto right now:

    1) What do you have to give up to get him? The Kings need more scoring and are apparently looking at a pretty big shakeup if they're thinking of trading the captain. Does Kulemin and this year's first get you in the conversation? Is that too steep of a price for Burke? Would Los Angeles even trade a goal-scoring winger struggling this year for another winger struggling this year? And if they're not, what do you move for him? I doubt the Kings want two prospects in a return for their captain when they're trying to make the playoffs. Do you have to move Kulemin AND Schenn to get yourself in the door? Is that worth it to Toronto?

    2) Is now even the right time for another top six forward? Now obviously, it's never a BAD time to pick up good players, but if you add someone like Dustin Brown, where does he play? I guess if you ship Kulemin+ for him, he naturally takes Kulemin's spot on the second line. But other than that? Or in a trade for someone other than Brown? I wouldn't bother breaking up the Lupul-Bozak-Kessel trio this year and MacArthur-Grabovski-Kulemin line has some weird chemistry that I'm not eager to mess with either.

    I think the better time to add to the forward corps is in the offseason, and honestly, I'd be looking to sell high on Lupul. He's having a great year and is playing well with Kessel, but do we think he can be an 80 point player consistently? He's useless if he's not scoring. So he's the guy in the top six I'd target, and I'd be looking to improve on Bozak as well, good season or no.

    I'm just glad Burke didn't trade for Carter. Not that I think the return was much - Scott Howson doesn't seem very good at this - but I was really afraid Burke would go after Carter to replace Grabovski. I think Grabbo is indispensible and has been the best Leaf the last two years. Pay the man. I wonder what he's asking for though - Dreger says the two sides are far apart, and Toronto is willing to go $5 million and five years. Something tells me Grabovski wants longer term.

  9. I sense we are thinking along very similar lines, Hope Smoke.

    We can never really figure out what the brass is thinking or considering, but there are certain things that are pretty evident. And I believe the back end has legitimate potential to be good, not just "OK". They won't unduly mess that up, maybe tweak around the edges, I would guess.

    The Franson notion makes sense. Again, whether he would be enough, I don't know, to bring in Brown. ( Just don't give us Penner! I saw enough of his indifferent play in Edmonton....)

  10. Hi Chris C....I can understand your frustration with Kulemin, of course. I know many are defending (and I've tried to here as well) that he brings other things to the table, but 6 goals doesn't do it.

    That said, I guess my perspective on him is a bit different. I thought he had a nice career arc going there right through last season. Something seemed to go off the rails at the World Championships last spring, and for reasons no one seems to understand, he has flat-lined in many ways this season. Confidence?

    I'd rather he stay and rebound here, but someone has to be moved, eh, if the Leafs want t bring in a different look up front.

    Thanks Chris.

  11. Awfully well-said, Ben B. Good stuff. You've succinctly captured a hopeful perspective going forward. And I don't think we're just "spinning" to sound optimistic. I agree about Reimer. It's way to soon to give up on a kid with his attitude. I may be proven wrong, but he's worth an investment of time.

    The "D" has the core you need to build on and fight through future injuries. Where we need help desperately, to me, is up front. Some nights what we have is fine, but the long-term concern is playoff hockey, because winning in the spring is the goal.

  12. I've let my commenting slack! Equal parts being busy, and also being holed up in the deep, dark room that's built out of 7 losses in 8 games. A few points:

    -It pains me to see Armstrong a healthy scratch so many nights A) because of the injuries he's had and B) the fact that he's such a character player. One part of me says if he's not producing, them's the breaks...but the team isn't producing either. Anybody think he returns on Saturday?

    -Used to be a Connolly fan, but I'm cooling on him. I gave him the benefit of the doubt but he's showing no signs of producing to his contract. Won't lose sleep if he's moved.

    -Re: the blueline, I think Burke's biggest trading chip is still Schenn. Like you said, Michael, he's only 22. But having been in the league 4 years already, I'm among those starting to get nervous about his true ceiling.

    -My ideal blueline still contains Gunnar, Gardiner, Phaneuf, Franson, Liles, and maybe Holzer (some are saying he's ready for the dance). But ultimately, I'd like to see Burke pull a rabbit out of his hat and nab a Suter or Weber. To my mind, that's our most pressing need.

    -Nash still on the table, and Kypreos says it's TOR and NYR leading. Do we go for him after seeing Carter's relatively palatable price? I don't see how Burke isn't reassessing what he's willing to pay. But that comes with a whole bunch of problems, namely Howson asking for Gardiner (no way) and being unable to re-sign Grabbo.

    -Finally, anybody interested in Dustin Penner? Numbers are terrible this year (5G, 8A) but he adds a ton of size. Wouldn't mind seeing him shake things up on the 2nd line and adding some energy.

    Got some VintageLeafs back-reading to do. Thanks for all your work, Michael.

  13. Dave S.....Great post. So well thought-out. Thanks.

    I can't add much to the detailed perspective you offer. A couple of small thoughts: I'm perhaps less concerned with "where" a good player might play. I always think of the Forsberg/Sakic years in Denver. No one worried, as I recall, who was "first" line or "second" line. They just had, like Detroit still seems to have, a bunch of fine players. That all gets worked out, at least in my mind.

    I agree with your thought that summer is a good time to make those kinds of moves, but in principle, I'll take all the forward talent I can get my hands on....and worry about ice time and egos later! (I'm sure we both want guys who want to win, not just fret about ice time, though I realize that's always a reality in hockey...)

    I happen to agree on Carter, for what it's worth.

    As for Grabbo, I hope he doesn't get too greedy. I like him a lot, but I don't like any player for more than 5 years, max....

    Thanks Dave, good stuff.

    Others have mentioned the notion of moving Lupul at his "high" as it were. Interesting. Dangerous, but who knows if Burke is thinking along similar lines. He has acquired- and traded - Lupul before...

  14. "DP: Kulemin is on the maybe keep list?"

    Yes, I don't want to trade him at his lowest value. His dropoff has been too dramatic....that Russian air crash and the death of many friends may be affecting him. I think he might rebound next year.

    I would like to wait until at least a third of the way through next season to see if he can rebound.

    I would prefer keeping Franson over Liles. Franson's ability to quickly throw shots from the blueline seems a rare talent that I don't want to give up. Franson also has terrific size. A few times I have seen him get angry and just throw down an opposing forward. If he could do that every! Lilies will never do that plus Gardiner is taking over Liles I say trade Liles, especially if somebody will overpay...or if you could package him for the forward that we need.

  15. Steve W....happy to see you "back", Steve. Always enjoy reading your posts here. Today is no exception.

    I track with pretty much everything you are expressing, but maybe would prefer to wait on moving Schenn. I just see him as a guy who can be part of the "core", and if he does not progress sufficiently, he may still attract suitors next season at this time.

    I'm not a big Penner guy. Now, I concede that, when moved, he can be physical and has nice skill, for sure. He should be a high-end difference-maker. I've just seen his work for too long to believe he will find himself now, and become a consistent performer...

    Thanks Steve!

  16. lots of great comments today on another great entry.
    is the trade-deadline the time for a mediocre team like our beloved leafs to go all-in? for me as fantasy-GM for the moment, i think now is a better time for us to allow the desperate-to-be-#1 teams to come to us with offers. i loved the kaberle deal last winter... kaberle, a leaf-fan favorite, really was showing his age and deteriorating skill in '10/'11... however for a team like boston, acquiring the veteran blue-liner was a NECESSITY for them... which is why (in my opinion), burke cleaned-up on this deal.
    no one here is claiming the leafs are going to be stanley cup champs this year, and the way things have been going in february, they'll get into the playoffs by the skin of their teeth (i love dental metaphors). i think the leafs have players that may be attractive to other teams, but the deal would be done on MY terms, as i'm content with the leafs moving forward/developing with their current roster.
    now as a petition to mr. burke 'please don't trade away the decent prospects and our number-1 draft-pick for the next two years, in order to land some currently 'truculent' player. one player does not a hockey-team make. (watch jeff carter re-injury his foot/shoulder in the next couple of weeks).'

  17. Geez, remember when we got the corpse of Al Secord? And the rotting remains of Owen Nolan? And Tom Fergus came down with PDD? Past Due Disease? Lindros was just another in the storied tradition . . . so I think we add the crumbling ruins of the Bulin Wall and maybe, I don't know, hey, how about we see if Yashin has anything left?

  18. Alex C.....I nodded throughout your comment today. (And yes, I caught your dental reference, but as you note, you're biased in that regard, eh...?)

    I think your assessment makes a lot of sense. Burke wants to be the guy that holds the cards, as it were. He doesn't like playing the "I gotta have" game too often. (He did it with Kessel, and that deal all be debated forever, as we watch Seguin and Hamilton in Boston for the next few years.) He obviouly much prefers the kind of deals he did with Anaheim and Calgary.
    And you are absolutely right about Kaberle.

    On your last point Alex, I don't think Burke will give away the candy store, even for one "truculent" guy.

    And yes, I'm always leery of guys like Carter, who are moved for a reason and are one injury away (I guess everyone is...) from being not near worth the huge contract they have...

  19. Hi Tom...not sure if your references are specifically in regard to something I alluded to. But I hear you. Yes, there have been many late in life Leaf acquisitions. I've posted on that subject often here.

    I will defend the Nolan deal (I posted on that recently...what did we really give up...?) because when he arrived here, he was still in one piece and we had legitimate aspirations of a long playoff run. But he was injured more when he got here....

  20. Interesting note, Leafs placed Boyce and Rosehill on waivers today. I know there are those who are fans of these guys, frankly I like Boyce myself... gritty, works pretty hard.

    But, this is just making room for a possible deal. You can't trade Darryl Boyce or even Tim Connolly or Colby Armstrong and expect to improve your team.

    I am not of the mind this team can simply develop away most of the problems. And, I've said before, there's only 1 net, only 7 NHL defenceman spots, etc. At some point, bodies have to be moved, or we risk having some of the prospect 'die on the vine' as it were (I wonder at this point if Mikus, Gysbers and Holzer would even consider re-signing with Toronto this summer, given they are not likely to get an NHL shot here).

  21. Mark....I hear you. I, too, sense we can't just un-load guys we don't want to attract a difference-maker. While Burke has done it twice before, I acknowledge, I would think rival GM's would not want to make the same mistake as Calgary and Anaheim...

    You raise an interesting thought about making room for some of the young guys (who need to know they may indeed have a shot at a future here at some point...). Thanks as always for a good- and realistic- post here.

  22. Burke should be selling off guys who might help floor teams and contenders. If the likes of Armstrong and Komisarek are still on this roster next season, the Leafs will just be another borderline playoff team. Burke would also do well to shed the contracts of Lombardi and Connolly, although both could be decent trade chips as expiring contract rentals to contenders next year.

    I would not at all be upset to see Liles move before the trade deadline, if for nothing more than to free up some cap space for Grabo and to open up a spot for a youngster like Holzer.

    I think Schenn should only be traded for a top asset or someone like a Dustin Brown type or JvR type player. I think Burke will make a move, but I'd almost be more inclined to see him just sell of some contracts to prepare for the off season.

    The Leafs should make a big push for Josh Harding or Cory Schneider in the off-season, as well as make sure they have enough space to resign Grabo and make a serious bid on Parise. Freeing up enough space (getting rid of Lombardi/Komi/Armstrong/Connolly would free up around $16million in cap space), to make a run all 3 of Parise/Suter/Harding, while leaving enough money to resign Grabo and keep the rest of the current roster intact (Kulemin stays on a cheapish RFA deal along with Franson).

    If Burke trades now I agree that it'll likely be small trades, and potential salary dumps, the biggest possible move being one to get Josh Harding now to avoid having him hit UFA and going somewhere else, and have him settle down the goaltending for a minor playoff push.

  23. I believe Kulemin is a very great asset going forward. Although he is having a less than stellar season, I believe he will rebound. His defensive game is phenomenal and something the leafs are lacking...

    All the hoopla surrounding luke schen is quite annoying. He lead the league last year in hits, this year he is up there and he leads the leafs with a plus 8. His offensive game is picking up as of late and he is only 22. As we all know defensmen tend to bloom late. JVR for luke schen I must admit intrigued me at first however look at the statistics. JVR only has 75 points in 153 games and was a minus 2 this season. Luke Schen has 55 points has the most hits since 2009 and is plus 8 this season. They both have pretty much identical contracts but schen has been the better of the two.
    Our defensive core is deep with prospects and young nhlers and therefore we can sacrifice a few defensmen here and there. As much as this pains me to say if the offer is right i would trade either gunnarson, holzer or blacker in a heartbeat to get a great top six foward or maybe
    a young good goalie such as bernier, tokarski or maybe even a cory schnieder (although that would be a hefty cost)
    I believe reimer was never the same since the concussion and we should give him the off season to recover. We should let gustavson go and maybe sign someone like an attero nittimaki or someone like that.
    Personally i believe the future is bright and we shouldn't mortgage it for the immediate future. Nash's cap hit is way to high, he isn't a centre which we desperatly need and his defensive game is atrocious. I really wanted jeff carter because off his great defensive presence, but he is gone. Maybe we should just wait for the offseason to make any big moves.
    I am really looking foward to the draft,this year defensmen and goalie's are a plentiful. Hopefully malcom subban will dawn the blue and white.

  24. There is rumour that the Winnipeg Jets are interested in Colby Armstrong today.

  25. It's Potential vs. Results, isn't it? The perennial GM's headache. Kulemin - done or dozing? Reimer - upside to spare or just letting the side down? It's difficult to support keeping almost any of our players if a good deal comes along - we're now about 2 points ahead of last year's mess, I believe.
    Frankly, this has me in a state of disbelief. I look at the team on paper and cannot fathom why we're yet again scrambling for the scraps off the playoff table. What's noticeable these days, and baffling, is the almost complete lack of motivation, of fierce drive, of my favorite new word, Bobby Craig's "muckulence" on the team. It used to be just the goalies - now everyone looks befuddled.
    Sure, looking ahead I like our D, I like the chemistry and points production of Lupul/Kessel/Bozak (who aren't doing much these days, btw), but why should anyone be untouchable on such an underachieving team, if the right deal is there? Brian Burke has shown he's a pretty good dealmaker, we say to ourselves, but as per yesterday's subject, he's in the business of winning, and it ain't happening.
    I'd also be looking at a coaching change - and I've been a Wilson supporter - but this group isn't getting it done.

  26. I tend to think of the team in terms of "is Player A part of our Cup-contending roster or not", which includes Kessel, Phaneuf, Gunnarson, Gardiner, GRABBO. Second tier is Bozak on lower line, Steckel for 4C, maybe Franson, Kulemin for his D-work and non-stop effort, Schenn if he truly learns to play shut-down D. The rest are expendable. We need to rid the organization of Armstrong and Komisarek and their financial or performance drag and replace them with critical pieces.
    Sell high, now, on Lupul, Lombardi. Keep focusing on the roster that will be brutal to compete against. And we simply have to fix our goaltending- I no longer believe we have a goalie with the talent to be a bona-fide #1, and we cannot move to the next step without it- full stop. Our top line is scoring in bunches but is a severely defensively flawed line. And we need a true top-flight shut-down D pairing, period. Anyone who's watched the last 2 weeks of hockey surely must understand this.
    On the Marlies, Frattin, Kadri, Colborne, Blacker/Holzer all keepers unless one of our critical pieces can be acquired with them.
    Have to keep our eyes on the prize.

  27. Good post Darryl. I'm probably not as hopeful as some that other GM's will want to take on salary for players like Armstrong, Connolly and Komisarek. Each comes with mega question marks...

    While a change of scenery sometimes helps, those guys have all had that experience before and it hasn't helped much. It may be that they won't be able to offer much more to a new team, and if I was a rival GM, I'd be loathe to take on those contracts- much less give any any assets to obtain them. But again, who knows?

    Liles is a name that has come up here today.

    I believe Schenn has been and continues to be in play. I'm not saying they should move him, simply that he is likely part of any serious Leaf trade talks, since Burke won't move Gardiner.

    I don't have a strong opinion on the goalies you mention, but maybe you are right about Harding. (I just see too many goalkeepers who are solid one season then struggling the next....) The UFA summer will prove interesting, if Suter and Parise get that far!

    Thanks Darryl...well said.

  28. 3.....I think Schenn is in play but as you may have read here before, I also think Schenn is a young guy that still may be just scratching the surface. How high the ceiling is, I don't know, but he's a hard-hitting guy who can play a simple game. If people can accept that, like most any defenseman, he will make mistakes, and like him for what he brings as opposed to what he isn't, then he could be a fixture here. But you have to believe some other teams might want him.

    Good post. Thanks 3.

  29. You've said it clearly, Gerund O'...I'll let your comments stand on their own...

  30. As with Gerund O', Kid've staked out your ground. I don't need to add anything.

  31. Katherine Dolan:Toronto based reporter for TSN

    "Leafs will promote 'mystery' player from Marlies tomorrow- Wilson wouldn't say who. Armstrong+Lupul expected to play - Lombardi game time?

    My guess is Frattin is coming up.

  32. Well I'm not sure what to think today (much like Leaf managment) it will probably change by sunday. I might go and see if you could trade Franson, MacArthur and Kadri for Bernier and Brown out of LA. I still believe in Riemer, he is after all only in his second year and recovering from a bad injury has put him two months behind schedule. Getting another decent goalie for those two would be a no brainer. Brown would bring that muckulence we so badly need. Franson has some good qualities but could be replaced. MacArthur can score but Frattin will replace him. Kadri has good potential but I'm not sold on him for some reason. He just doesn't excite me.

    I think Grabovski is a goner will miss him but Colburne has shown he can play and score when playing on a top line.

    Connolly should be moved for whatever is offered, a bag of pucks and some fried icecream would suffice. I actually was a fan of his to start this season but now I can't wait till he goes.

    Komisarek, doesn't deserve the flack he catches here in Leafland. He is still a servicable 5-6 dmen. I don't care what he makes, that's not his fault. Still if he is going to sit he might be a fit somewhere. Same goes for Armstrong, decent player but hasn't fit in, so cut bait and get something in return.

    The only guys I would not trade would be Gardiner, and Schenn. I have leaned towards letting Schenn go in the past but I just can't give up on a young defenseman with that much upside. He is going to be a consistent 40-45 point guy who hits like a ton of bricks.

    Anybody else is available for the right price. The deal would have to be wicked good though.

  33. Loved your post Willbur. Right now, I think we are all waiting and wondering if any "shoes" drop!

  34. Reading the comments has me scratching my head. While I was still investing in stocks on the market, I learned an important lesson: do not get emotionally involved with any of my holdings. The truth is that there are few fans still around that can even remember the last Stanley Cup win in Toronto. We have all been duped by what transpires. You have a GM who has made himself larger than the team. Burke is more of the problem than any feasable solution. I look at Steve Yzerman operating more or less on his own. He's wheeling and dealing and the team is progressing. Then, turning to the Leafs, look at what Burke has done. He has surrounded himself with a hired team of alleged experts and former GMs and a coach that has long been out of touch. Among them, methinks that they spend far too much time back slapping, sipping cocktails and noshing business lunches. Now, less than 72 hours before the trade deadline is NOT the time to accomplish very much as we all watch them fall out of (at least!) a play off spot. Seriously folks, it's time to recognize that Burke's grand plan was in reality no plan. Let's cut the tie with Burke and move along.

  35. Anon....Thanks for your comment. The well-spoken posters here can well defend their own views. I'm not sure fans have so much been "duped" as they are eternally hopeful, I guess, that the latest "strategy" of "plan" will come to fruition.

    If you did not see it, given your perspective, you might want to visit my post of a few days ago on Burke, the legend and the myth....

  36. Boyce got claimed by Columbus.

    Too bad I always liked him.

  37. Thanks for the update, DP. Boyce is a good guy and a nice payer. He took a hard-working road to the NHL. I hope he gets a real shot to play in Columbus...

  38. Hello fellow posters, I'm back for a brief return (University work piles up around this time of year leaving less time for you guys).

    Here are my thoughts on the "trade deadline" so far:

    Carter: Was never sold on acquiring a 10 year contract for a guy who brings much of what we already have, scoring.

    Nash: He is simply too rich in talent needed to acquire and he isn't a centre.

    Ruutu: Carolina confirmed my belief that he would be overpaid for a guy we slides between 2nd/3rd line.

    Now we come to Brown and Ott, both player would bring size and toughness which we lack outside the 4th line. They both can play hockey while delivering big hits and energy every shift, something we thought we had in Armstrong.

    Of the two I think Brown would be the better first option due to his natural talent (a 50 point man) would would fit into the top 6. Ott would be a second option as he could easily fill into 2nd or 3rd line duty without being out of place (better than the Crabb experiment).

    I would suspect a fair price of Brown would be a player like MacArthur and Holzer. MacArthur is on pace for more goals and would get you as many or more than Brown on a yearly basis. I think he adds scoring ability LA is seeking and has term remaining to fill the void. Holzer can step into their line-up as early as next season. Franson could be a piece I'd be willing to replace Holzer with if needed as I already in my mind at the beginning of the season had him and Connolly going for Stastny.

    Ott I assume would command a prospect and pick. Something along the lines of a 2nd and Mueller. Mueller may not be NHL ready next season but he is slowly adjusting to the North American game and would bring size to a 3rd line in Dallas.

  39. Thanks Slill2Envy....What you are outlining as a possible discussion point in any Dustin Brown talks may in fact be closer than we realize!

    I'm guessing if Ott moves at all, it will be to the Canucks or a team that has a real shot at the Cup.